While Croatia has the longest coastline on the Adriatic sea at 1104 miles, of all of the countries on this tour it has the shortest stretch of Danube riverfront, at only 85 miles. We stopped in Vukovar, had a short walking tour of the city followed by a bus ride to our home-hosted lunch in Aljmas. From there the bus took us to reboard the ship at Batina, just a few miles short of the Hungarian border.
Vukovar was almost entirely razed during the 1991 Croatian war of independence, and much of our tour was focused on that event. We learned about the heroism of two men, Ivica Ivanika and Hrvoje Džalto. During the 87-day siege of Vukovar they spent an hour and a half every night climbing up the water tower to raise a new Croatian flag, which was shot down every day. The tower was shelled more than 640 times but remained standing. Eventually Ivanika was killed and Džalto was captured. Today the water tower stands as a memorial to the suffering of the war, only partially restored with much of its damage still evident.
We also visited the Vukovar Memorial Cemetery where 938 crosses were erected for the 938 bodies exhumed from a mass war grave. Two separate crosses commemorate the youngest and oldest victims of the war, at ages six months and 104 years respectively.
After a brief stop at the 18th century Eltz Manor, our bus took us to our home-hosted lunches in the village of Aljmas. The 35-person tour group separated into four homes where the locals could tell us about life in Croatia. Our host provided a delicious three-course meal in a home with an expansive view of the Danube. She told us that, despite the pain of losing her younger brother in the war, she had no room in her heart for animosity toward those who had inflicted so much damage on the country.
We arrived back at the Danube in Batina, Croatia just in time to watch our ship docking, to take us on our final leg up to Budapest, Hungary.